Walk on Water

Fishing piers surround visitors with shore, sky and sea



Scott Holstein / Rowland Publishing File Photo

Okaloosa Island Pier is one of five piers on the Emerald Coast that extends up to 1,500 feet into the Gulf of Mexico with elevations of up to 35 feet.

 

So you want to experience some first-person contact with the Gulf of Mexico, but you don’t want to do it by boat? Fishing piers are the answer, and the Emerald Coast features an ideal assortment of them, located from Pensacola to Panama City. Each pier has at least one facility nearby where you can rent equipment and buy bait, so all you have to do is show up. What you catch often depends on the season. Piers also attract all sorts of people in addition to those who fish. Just catching sight of various ocean creatures or celebrating the rosy glow of dawn or sunset can be the highlight of any day.


Navarre Beach Pier

Located between Pensacola and Destin at 8649 Gulf Blvd., Pensacola

  • March–April: open 5 a.m.–8 p.m.
  • May–October: open 5 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • November–February: open sunrise to sunset
  • Annual passes available
  • Daily spectator fee: children under 5 are free, 6–adult are $1
  • Daily admission plus fishing license: children 5 and under are free, youth 6–15 are $4, adults are $7, seniors are $6
  • Pier measures: 1,545 feet long and 30 feet high
  • Water depth at end: estimated at 32 feet

Pier manager Stephanie Maddox pointed out that this pier has its own bait-and-tackle shop and an attached restaurant.
Species caught from the pier vary seasonally. Mackerel are present throughout the warm water months. Anglers target sheepshead in the winter and tackle cobia and pompano in the spring. Occasional catches may include big game. 


J.D. Andrews / VISIT FLORIDA

Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier 
and trust. 

Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier 

Located at 41 Fort Pickens Road, Pensacola

  •  January–May, August–December: open 6 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • June–July: open 24 hours
  • Annual passes available
  • daily spectator fee: $1.25
  • daily admission plus fishing license: children under 6 are free, youth are $4.50, adults are $7.50, military and seniors are $6.50
  • Pier measures: 1,471 feet long and 22 feet high
  • Water depth at end: estimated at 20–23 feet

Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier owner Mike Pinzone said the most exotic catch he’s seen on the pier involved a jellynose fish, which usually swims in water 5,000 feet deep. It wound up in a museum at the University of Florida. Pinzone added that he has received permission to build several artificial reefs near the pier.

The pier’s Casino Beach location means nearby access to Gulfside Pavilion as well as Casino Beach Boardwalk, which boasts restaurants, bait and tackle supply shops and surfing gear retailers.


Okaloosa Island Pier

Located at 1450 Miracle Strip Parkway, Fort Walton Beach

  • April–October: open 24 hours
  • November–March: open 5 a.m.–9 p.m. 
  • Daily spectator fee: $2
  • Daily admission plus fishing license: children 5 and under are free, children 6–12 are $5, adults are $8, seniors are $7.50
  • Pier measures: 1,288 feet long and 35 feet high
  • Water depth at end: estimated at 10–15 feet

Pier manager Steve Blouin said that sailfish are caught there once in a while, but ribbonfish are the most exotic catch.

There is a restaurant attached to the pier, which is adjacent to both the Gulfarium and The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island. The Boardwalk also features restaurants, a bait-and-tackle supply shop and surfing gear retailers.


 Courtesy of Panama City Beach CVB

Panama City Beach Russell-Fields City Pier

Panama City Beach Russell-Fields City Pier

Located at 16201 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach

  • Open 24 hours daily all year
  • Daily spectator fee: $3
  • Daily admission plus fishing license: $6
  • Pier measures: 1,500 feet long and 30 feet high
  • Water depth at end: estimated at 25–28 feet

Aquatic superintendent Will Spivey said large sharks, giant sea turtles and Goliath grouper have all visited this pier. Spivey enjoyed hosting country music star Luke Bryan at the pier and supervised his “pier jump,” which is part of Spivey’s local lifeguard training.

There is a restaurant and a bait-and-tackle shop at the base of the pier, which is across the street from the large Pier Park retail and dining development.


Panama City Beach M.B. Miller County Pier

Located at 12213 Front Beach Road, Panama City Beach

  • Open 24 hours daily all year 
  • Daily spectator fee: $3
  • Daily admission plus fishing license: $6
  • Pier measures: 1,500 feet long and 30 feet high
  • Water depth at end: estimated at 25–28 feet 

Pier attendant Ted Myron recalled a kayaker’s meeting with an 18-foot basking shark weighing about 1,200 pounds that led to a Good Morning America interview and a YouTube video — a “one in a million” experience. There is a bait-and-tackle shop adjacent to the pier.


To learn more about Gulf Coast piers, check out “Florida Piers” at thepierlife.com.

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